I love cooking and trying new recipes and I usually really enjoy hosting in my home - yet, I've recently been in a bit of a slump when it comes to having people over. I partially blame the weather and my very warm condo (my lack of A/C and morning sun has made living conditions more like a sweat box.)
That being said, I decided to beat the heat and have some people over for brunch - one of my favourite meals to host. The menu options can favour more breakfast or lunch, leaving no shortage to get creative with the menu (BONUS: you can get a bit day buzzed that could carry on into a great afternoon nap.) Not to mention that you're forced to get your place in order for 10am!
To get inspired to impress my friends I naturally ended up down a Pinterest rabbit hole of recipes and my "Foodie" board quickly started to resemble a hangry person who's gone grocery shopping. I had pinned everything from huevos rancheros, lemon ricotta pancakes, tofu scramble and coleslaw. Clearly I was all over the map and needed to reel in my cuisine meal planning; I decided to keep it simple and in season.
Cooking in season has so many advantageous - not only is it cheap and cheerful but you're getting the best quality ingredients and you don't have to go to 5 grocery stores to find a plethora of specialty items. Summer is the best time to take full advantage of all the glorious fruits available; I've literally survived summer by shovelling handfuls of blueberries in my face (think: toddler's first birthday cake smash). That is just one of my secret single behaviours I do alone without judgement - and now you know it. The colours of summer are also always fun to incorporate into your meals and add an appetizing element to the eye of your guests. Use your extra greens as garnish, and always sub your fridge veg in for almost any recipe (I always have asparagus on hand right now and it's been so versatile in so many recipes.)
Being out of the hostess game, I had to remind myself and get organized - even though it was only a small group I planned the whole week so I wasn't scrambling. I've put together a little cheat sheet of how to host in season and prepare in advance:
- Guest List: Give at least a week's notice to invite people - in summer 2 weeks is best as most people's schedules are busy, the last thing you want is last minute cancellations.
- Menu Planning: Get inspired at the grocery store - namely the produce section. By starting with in season veg you can build off of that with different flavours and then add your protein etc.
- Allergies or food restrictions: Whether it's a mid-week potluck, dinner party or brunch, you want to be courteous of your guests and and food restrictions - gluten free, plant based, lactose intolerant are all common and are honestly so easy to accommodate these days so don't be caught off guard and plan ahead to make sure the menu suits everyone!
- Drink Choices: Tea/Coffee/Alchohol, be prepared and have a selection.
- Do what you can ahead of time: This is a big time and stress saver: I always have the table set the night before and any meal prep I can do ahead of time: ex. fruit/veg washed and chopped.
- Plan for cooking and prep time: If multiple dishes require the oven, look to see how much time is needed and the temperature. You don't want your frittatta to be overcooked or your potatoes to get cold. Cooking times should factor into your menu planning. So again, save time and stress (are you seeing a pattern?)
- DON'T DO IT ALL: A hard one for me to follow as I always want to serve a baked good of sorts - muffin or loaf - but knowing me and my baking that usually ends with a kitchen coated in flour, I couldn't be bothered and opted for mini croissants from Whole Foods that were the perfect addition to the table. And no, no one cared that they weren't homemade.
- Anticipate clean up time: On the day of the last thing you want to be doing is cleaning while your guests are arriving, get organized and be cleaning as you go. Always have the dishwasher empty and ready to load with all the things (no rinse required - I know, I'm a rebel).
- Plan your outfit: A bit silly but I promise it will save you the headache or a last minute fashion show. Keep in mind as a hostess you're going to be up and down, filling drinks, serving and so on. My suggestion is to wear nothing too binding: stick with breathable fabrics because, if you're anything like me, you may be sweating that your guests are enjoying themselves. I've made the mistake of hosting in a tight spanx requiring outfit that just meant readjusting at every turn (never again!)
Now that you've overthought every aspect of the day it's time to eat! See my menu with the recipes linked before. Again, super simple and minimal oven time. Let's be honest, I couldn't risk anymore heat in my place.
French Press (with the best non-dairy creamer, Califia)
Crossaints with Jam (Thanks, Whole Foods)
So there you have it! A summer brunch that could be modified and changed with the colours of the season. At the end of the day it's nice to have your people in your home, relaxed and just happy to be there. I think I've got my hosting groove back and already looking forward to the next meal.
My go-to date question is always, what's your favourite meal to make for someone? So tell me yours in the comments below!